© Erich Lessing

SEVEN YEARS OF WANT… Discovered on Sehel Island, at the Nile’s First Cataract, the Famine Stele describes a seven-year famine that occurred in Egypt. While the inscription itself dates to the Ptolemaic period (332–331 B.C.E.), it tells of events more than 2,000 years earlier. During the reign of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty (c. 2670 B.C.E.), a severe drought plagued Egypt. Djoser consults the sage Imhotep, who determines that the flooding of the Nile is controlled by the god Khnum; his temple is located in the Nile on Elephantine Island. After making propitiations to the god Khnum, Djoser has a dream in which Khnum appears and assures him that the Nile will flow again, thus ending the seven-year famine. Djoser responds with more offerings for Khnum. This inscription has numerous parallels with the story of Joseph in Genesis 41.